Community Center Provides Weekend Entertainment for Youth
by Christy Hopkins
Colored lights dazzle above a black and white checkered dance floor, waiting the evening’s first arrival. Across the room, three pool tables sit ready for play, while a volunteer readies the blender for the first Strawberry Delight or Prather Pride request. Youth, aged third grade and up, soon begin to wander in, some alone, some in groups, and before long, one will attach his or her IPOD to the IPOD base and music fills the air. Some take up residence on one of the couches while others play ping pong or foosball, warm up the shuffleboard table, or sit at the 20 foot oak bar, ordering a pizza or snack, and visiting with the adults behind the counter.
It’s another typical weekend night at Greeley County’s Community Youth Action Team (CYAT) Center. Providing a safe, accessible place for young people to socialize, the CYAT Center is open each Friday and Saturday night, unless there is a home ballgame. It is manned by community volunteers, each dedicating their time to help provide a welcoming, familiar environment where youth can relax, enjoy their friends’ company, play games, and interact with caring adults.
According to Lynn Wineinger, CYAT Center president, the center’s mission is “respect for community, others, property, and yourself - COPY.” The Center strives to serve as an intergenerational meeting place, and over the past few years, has begun hosting a monthly “keep it sensibly simple” community potluck, welcoming in area residents of all ages. The CYAT Center also hosts a variety of community events throughout the year, including their annual St. Patrick’s Day Potato Bar and Community Halloween Party.
Other events, specifically designated for the youth include fair, New Year’s Eve, and “school’s out” dances.
Other organizations frequently use the CYAT Center facility, which is the former Miller’s Hardware Store. Its ample room and numerous games make it a choice location for family gatherings, birthday parties and other special events. Greeley County Recreation uses the Center for wrestling, gymnastics, and other programming. This year’s new Teaming for Kids day events also open the center to elementary aged students once a month for organized games.
In its eighth year of operations, the CYAT Center has been funded by donations and diversion fund dollars in addition to occasional grants. Throughout the last few years, the Center was active with the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction grants and devoted a great deal of time and energy to smoking prevention, promoting physical activity, and nutrition education. A good portion of the CYAT Center’s equipment has been donated by the community, and the area has been supportive of this volunteer run community youth center.
The CYAT Center is a non-profit 501(c)3 managed by a five-member volunteer board. This board works carefully to stretch its limited resources, making building payments in addition to paying for utilities and necessary supplies.
Though finances are often tight, the board members say that having an opportunity to spend time with the youth makes it all worthwhile.
“Mentoring is a very important part of what we do with young people,” says Wineinger, “whether it’s playing games or visiting with them. The CYAT Center is a safe place to be and the volunteers are caring adults that love kids.”
The CYAT Center is located at 120 W. Greeley in Tribune and is open for youth aged 3rd grade and up from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. throughout the winter. Summer hours are 8 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. For more information on the CYAT Center, contact Lynn Wineinger at (620) 376- 4091.